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Itaewon's suspense: masculinities, place-making and the US Armed Forces in a Seoul entertainment district

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Abstract

The US military presence in Korea has had unintended consequences in an entertainment district in Seoul, where competing performances of masculinity function as a key place-making strategy. Itaewon's suspense – the uneasy positioning of the neighbourhood between allure and repulsion – arises out of a suspension of the area between contesting sovereignties, and at times allows fraternal bonding between an unlikely cast of actors. With Itaewon's multifarious identities increasingly becoming commodified, the democratic liberalisations (which have partly emerged from and partly acted upon the place of Itaewon) have ironically also opened the gates for rampant economic liberalisation.

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